An international school is a place synonymous with foreign curriculum and quality education.
With an ever-increasing number of international schools in Malaysia catering to the growing demand for them, it comes as no surprise that to keep up the quality of education, the need for experienced teachers is high too.
Despite the perception, not all teachers at international schools are expatriates or foreigners. In fact, most of the teachers in international schools are locals.
However, having children taught by expatriates is a common expectation and attraction of international schools.
The number of expat teachers in a particular school is a common query most parents make before enrolling their children. They are even willing to pay higher school fees specifically so foreigners will teach their kids.
But why is that? The reason is because expat teachers bring many benefits and opportunities to students.
A native to the system
One of the top reasons parents enrol their children into international schools is the foreign curriculum.
Parents believe teachers native to the school’s curriculum origins understand the learning techniques better because it is not so “foreign” to them.
Each curriculum has a unique style that develops students in different areas and as natives to the curriculum, expat teachers would know first-hand what to expect from it and hence how to deliver it effectively.
It is somewhat true since as former students themselves, expats understand the nuances and intricacies of the curriculum.
Thus, they can plan activities, assignments and grade according to the core of the curriculum.
For example, more emphasis might be placed on application instead of memorisation or assignments.
Their experience can be invaluable as they can continue to improve upon the education they received when they were younger, and parents are more likely to enrol their child in an international school with expat teachers for this reason.
Nevertheless, a local teacher who has attended an international curriculum should be considered too since like expat teachers they too would be aware of the finer details.
Speak like a pro
The rise of globalisation has solidified the importance and position of English as a global language.
Parents, realising this fact, want to send their kids to international schools with expat teachers from an early age so they can learn the language from native speakers.
The English language is full of quirks that can be infuriating to non-native speakers, including certain rules not written in books.
Moreover, native speakers are aware of certain slang or sayings not known or often used by non-natives.
For example, Malaysian speakers add the word “la” to the end of sentences and Australians call their friends “mate”.
Native English-speaking expat teachers not only ensure their students pick up the nuances of speaking the language but can do so without faltering.
Having expat teachers also exposes students to multiple accents from different countries.
Many local students have difficulty communicating with foreigners not because of language, but because of their accents.
Even people from the same country have trouble understanding each other due to their accents.
A simple word such as “zebra” can become “zee-bra” or “zeh-bra”, depending on the accent of the speaker, which in turn depends on which country or region the speaker is from.
Having expat teachers to communicate and practise with ensures students are not overwhelmed by foreign accents outside of school.
Having said that, the common perception that expat teachers, especially if they are from a native English-speaking country, are inherently better at teaching the language, of course, is inaccurate.
The reason being that speaking your mother tongue is instinctive whereas learning or teaching a language requires more than just instinct.
When it comes to grammar and mechanics of the English language, what matters more is the qualification of the teacher.
Teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge will always be coveted regardless of their nationality or the perception parents have of expat teachers.
What matters more, after all, is how it benefits the child since their improvement is of utmost priority.
And so, the quality of education that children receive should be the biggest determining factor when choosing schools.
SchoolAdvisor.my provides information on private and international schools, extra-curricular activities as well as other education-related topics in Malaysia.